On Monday night, the club played their 4,608th game in franchise history. On average, a Rockies starter will go the distance and blank their opponent once every 136 games. As starter pitch counts continue to decrease, one can presume the feat has become even more rare.
Monday night was the rarest of all, however. Chad Kuhl pulled it off against the highest payroll in baseball.
He’s now fulfilled some single-game accomplishments that he’s never before reached, like recording more than 22 outs in a single game. Kuhl’s previous career-long came on April 30 of this year, where he allowed three earned runs to the Reds over 7 1⁄3 innings. He had previously completed seven frames in five different starts with Pittsburgh, not allowing a run in four of them.
Plenty was working against Kuhl entering Monday night: he had allowed 11 earned runs in his previous three starts (14 1⁄3 IP), the Dodgers remained the NL favorite to win the pennant, and on the heels of a six-game road trip, Kuhl’s first throws back at elevation came during his pregame warm-up. There were no acclimation throws leading up to it — making this outing all the more impressive.
Of the 34 complete-game shutouts in Rockies history, six of them have happened since 2016:
Our guy Mac Wilcox gave us the full game recap on Monday night, covering the most dominant start of Kuhl’s career. From Mac: “[Kuhl] faced just 29 batters, and faced the minimum of hitters in all but two innings. How fitting that he was caught by his old Pittsburgh teammate Díaz, who called a great game and assisted Kuhl with the phenomenal feat.”
Kuhl was actually in the opposing dugout for this one. Germán Márquez took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the 29-48 Pittsburgh Pirates, and in a total of 92 pitches, Márquez allowed just three Pirates to reach base (walk, hit-by-pitch, single).
This remains one of the deepest no-hit bids by a Rockies starter in Coors Field history, rivaling Kyle Freeland’s near-no-hitter in 2017. The 1996 no-hitter by the Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo remains the only such outing at 20th and Blake.
Push the calendar back around 16 months and you will find Márquez did it again, this time tossing a one-hitter on the road. San Francisco had a 7-9 record at the time, while the Rockies desperately needed some wins at 4-11.
The no-hit bid survived until an eighth-inning ground-ball single by Evan Longoria. Márquez ended the day with nine strikeouts. This start came in the second week of the 2019 season, during a point where pitch counts are monitored a little heaver than summer months. Márquez needed 105 pitches to seal this one and he did so with a three-up, three-down ninth.
Rewind the clock back to the last Rockies complete-game shutout, almost two years to the day. Márquez’s 2019 shutout was a near copy of Tyler Chatwood’s 2017 start, one where Chatwood blanked the Giants and allowed two hits to Márquez’s one.
Chatwood allowed a single hit in both the sixth and seventh, but otherwise kept the bases empty aside from a single walk. He also threw 105 pitches. (Bonus fact: Ty Blach threw the last pitch for the Giants pitching staff that day).
San Francisco had reached the NLDS just months prior and was amidst a 5-7 start to 2017. Colorado’s 7-5 start would catch some momentum towards an inevitable postseason appearance that October.
A 113-pitch showing by Jon Gray shut out the Padres late in 2016, with the Rockies out of contention at 70-77. Gray still had plenty to prove in his arbitration value, however, and this start could have easily paid dividends for his contract to come.
Gray allowed four hits to the 62-85 Padres, but his 16 strikeouts on the day were well ahead of the mark of other complete-game shutouts on this list. Aside from those four hits, Gray retired the remaining 27 batters he faced.
It would have made practical sense to end this list at the previous ‘five’ shutouts, but the comeback story of Chad Bettis is just too inspiring to leave off this list.
This shutout in late 2016 occurred before Bettis was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and an ovation from a performance like this can imaginably hold some motivation value during the tough treatments he would later face. 11 days before Gray went the distance, Bettis tossed a Labor Day masterpiece against a 73-63 Giants squad that could muster just two hits. Bettis would later complete the return from his cancer battle in late 2017, posting a different kind of shutout of an even greater variety.
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Kris Bryant returns to lineup for Colorado Rockies after missing more than month with back strain | ESPN
Lest we forget another huge headline: Kris Bryant is back! After missing well over 30 days with a back issue (and after some shaky, strikeout-laden rehab outings with Triple-A Albuquerque), Bryant went 1-for-4 in his return from the injured list.
Our friend Kevin Henry of Rox Pile gives us a great analysis on the state of the Rockies’ starting rotation. He details the Ryan Feltner demotion and what it means for Austin Gomber, eager to prove his starter worth after two relief appearances. Gomber has allowed 20 earned runs in 20 innings this month but will likely return to the rotation this week. Henry also addresses the return of Ty Blach from the injured list, another key addition to help preserve the rotation and bullpen.
Not an actual article but a huge factor, no less: Colorado’s top relievers have not thrown a ton of pitches over the past few games, but Kuhl’s shutout can do wonders to prevent burnout for where the Rockies are looking to cover for the injured Tyler Kinley. Check out the FanGraphs Closer Depth Chart to see just how rested the Rockies bullpen is.
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On the Farm
Monday, May 30: League-wide off day for all minor league affiliates
New series starting today:
Triple-A: Sugar Land Space Cowboys (HOU) at Albuquerque Isotopes (COL)
Double-A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies (NYM) at Hartford Yard Goats (COL)
High-A: Spokane Indians (COL) at Vancouver Canadians (TOR)
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies (COL) at Stockton Ports (OAK)
Arizona Complex Rockies (Mon-Sun): vs. OAK, @ CHC, Off, vs. SEA, vs. TEX, vs. LAA, Off
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